Guest: Jeff Sessions, Peter Teahen, Bill Karins, Stephen Nodine, Bob Riley, Michael Brown, David Vitter, Haley Barbour
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Tonight‘s top headline: Killer Katrina kicks the Gulf Coast. One of the most powerful storms ever crashes into America‘s southern coastline, with winds up to 150 miles per hour, storm surge as high as 30 feet, and already eight dead, but many more missing at this time. Our NBC News reporters are on the scene across the Gulf Coast with live updates of Katrina‘s wrath.
Thank you for being with us tonight. She‘s a tropical storm now, but, at 6:10 a.m., Katrina made landfall and wreaked havoc across the Gulf Coast, where I live, from New Orleans, now under full evacuation, where the winds walloped the Superdome, across Louisiana, leaving hundreds of thousands without power and, even more, wondering whether they‘ll ever have homes to return to, to Mississippi, where storm surges were as high as 25 feet and where Biloxi took—quote—“a devastating hit.”
Tonight, five people are dead and the fear is that there will be many more. And also, half-a-million people without power, my home one of them, from here in Pensacola, all the way across the Gulf Coast to Louisiana. And, tonight, early estimates are, the damage could cost as much as $26 billion.
All weekend long, Louisiana has been bracing for a storm that could change its geography, fearing that this one could be the one that put New Orleans completely under water. It‘s what we have been talking about across the Gulf Coast for decades now, the big one. But, at the last possible second, Katrina downgraded to Category 4 and shifted slightly. And, friends, we saw it in Ivan. We saw it in Dennis. We see it in every storm. A slight shift of a few miles can mean the difference between life and death for people across the Gulf Coast.
This one shifted slightly. And that meant that New Orleans would be battered, but not broken.
And New Orleans is where NBC‘s Martin Savidge rode out the storm last night.
Martin, great to have you here with us tonight. I will tell you, when I saw you there last night, I was just rolling my eyes, going, my God, how could anybody go down there? Because, you know, all of us in the Gulf Coast knows, that if this thing hit to the left, a little bit further to the left, I will tell you, just—and I say a little bit, you are talking maybe 20, 30 miles, if it had gone 20 or 30 miles to the west, then New Orleans could have possibly, possibly experienced the big one, and all of New Orleans could have been under water.
Instead, again, it went more to the east and, because of it, New Orleans was saved. But they‘re still having a terrible, terrible night.
Now, they‘re having—we‘re having technical difficulties right now with Martin Savidge. Obviously, whenever a hurricane goes through, it makes a lot of technology very vulnerable. I will tell you, here in the studio where I come from on the Gulf Coast, just about every night, right now, we‘re running on generator power. I mean, this—this storm is one of the largest storms to ever smash across the Gulf Coast. And it‘s wreaked havoc, again, across a 200-mile stretch, from New Orleans, Louisiana, to Pensacola, Florida.
I want to go now, though, to place where, friends, you may not see it tonight, but, tomorrow, when the pictures start coming out, Biloxi, Mississippi, will be seen really as ground zero in this storm. And it took what one person called a devastating hit.
I want to go to David Shuster, who rode out the storm in Biloxi last night.
David, this morning, when we woke up and saw that eye going just to the west of you, we knew that you must have been in for a rough, rough ride. Tell us about it and tell us about Biloxi is faring tonight.
DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, Joe, it was absolutely terrifying for everybody, and to think about the fact that we were four miles inland and we had winds clocked at over 100 miles per hour that were essentially ripping off the siding of our hotel and of the roof and of all the stores and the movie theaters nearby.
And we thought we were in a pretty safe location. It was even worse, much worse, for people who were closer to the water. And the one thing that keeps sticking with me is what the mayor told me about 25, 26 hours ago, when he said that 40 percent of the Biloxi population was going to try to stick around. And that meant 15,000 or 20,000 people who were going to stay within just a couple of miles of the beach.
And they got just hammered. Today, we couldn‘t even get to Biloxi, because all the roads were cut off because of either electrical power lines, debris blocking the roadway or because, for example, Interstate 90, which goes to Biloxi, was under water in part. So, one can only imagine how bad the damage was for those tens of thousands of people in Biloxi.
But, based on what we saw from as far as we could get, there was a little down between here and Biloxi that has about 6,000 people. We saw that town completely under water, the gas station, the automobile dealer. The high school that‘s been in session for two weeks, that building had broken windows all over the place and water three or four feet deep.
So, as you get closer to Biloxi, you can only imagine how bad it was. And, again, Joe, I think you‘re absolutely right. And I hope—I hope that we‘re wrong. I hope that tomorrow is not going to be as bad as I sort of fear. But given what the mayor said last night about the number of people who were going to ride this out and given how ferocious the winds were and the damage that it inflicted even where we are, four miles in, I shiver to even think, Joe, about what it‘s going to be like tomorrow, when people can finally get there.
And, again, we have no idea, because cell phones aren‘t working. There is no power. There is no access to Biloxi because the roads are closed. So, we really don‘t have any clear idea about just how bad it may be there.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, and that‘s the thing, David, that‘s so hard
for people that haven‘t covered hurricanes, like you have now. They don‘t
· just, they don‘t understand that, when these things come, it doesn‘t matter that we‘re in a 24/7 news cycle. These areas get completely shut off from no electricity, no cell phone service, no regular phone service.
So, we don‘t know how many people are unfortunately—Haley—and Haley Barbour talked about it. We don‘t know how many people may have died last night in Biloxi by trying to ride out the storm.
You know, Hurricane Camille struck in 1969. Obviously, that has hung over this region like a bad dream for about 35, 36 years. Are people saying that this storm last night was as bad as Camille?
And, Joe, they‘re saying that it was worse, because the reason that they fear the worst with Biloxi is, for example, here at the hotel where we were, where we were shielded by this large building, the winds went on and on for eight or nine hours. I mean, we were clocking winds of 100 miles per hour for literally two-and-a-half years. But it was staying at 80 or 90 miles an hour, virtually eight or nine hours long, which was an indication of just how big the storm was.
And that relentless pounding stripped away the side of the buildings, caused damage for every building that you saw where we were. So, you multiply that, as one of our meteorologist suggested, you add an extra 10 to 15 miles per hour in wind speed with each mile that you get closer to the beach, and then you‘re talking about winds of 130, 140 per mile along the beach in Biloxi. And that went on for eight or nine hours.
And that, combined with the tremendous amount of rain, the storm surge, which we saw here caused creeks to overflow, which flooded the parking lot behind us. There is a major department store behind us. This parking lot was under water most of the day just because of a creek that overflowed. And the creeks, of course, are bigger, the river is bigger, as you flood into the gulf.
So, who knows what we‘re going to find tomorrow? But there are a lot of people who are very, very anxious tonight about what it is that we are going to see.
SCARBOROUGH: I‘m afraid it‘s going to be bad news. David Shuster, thank you so much for being with us. We greatly appreciate it.
SHUSTER: You‘re welcome.
SCARBOROUGH: I want to go now to Haley Barbour. Haley is obviously the governor of Mississippi. He‘s in Jackson tonight.
Governor, thank you so much for being with us.
Obviously, not a good night for Mississippi last night or this morning. Tell us what you know about the situation in Biloxi right now.
GOV. HALEY BARBOUR ®, MISSISSIPPI: Well, of course, Joe, one of the hardest things is, we don‘t know a lot. This—this storm made a direct hit on our Gulf Coast.
It was a massive, powerful storm and it struck us a grievous blow. A lot of what has happened on the coast, as your reporter noted, David, you can‘t get in there. We weren‘t able to start search-and-rescue until about an hour-and-a-half before dark. And so we really didn‘t get very far. Roads are blocked, under water. There‘s a tremendous amount of devastation there. I mean, it‘s simply catastrophic damage everywhere.
So, we don‘t know very much about fatalities. We‘re prayerful, hopeful. But, as I have to say, we kind of went into this hurricane with hurricane fatigue. Last year, Ivan came and came right up to the Gulf Coast of Mississippi and ticked off to the east. People boarded up, evacuated. Nothing happened. A few weeks ago, Dennis came. People boarded up, evacuated. Nothing happened.
And so, I‘m afraid a lot of people this time said, I don‘t think I‘m going to do that this time. And this land where we are, it didn‘t even flood when Camille came. But we know that there are areas today that got six or eight feet of water on them that didn‘t flood when Camille came. And Camille is the worst hurricane ever to hit America.
So, the storm surge was enormous. The winds were high, though not as high as Camille. But the storm surge, for whatever reason, was just enormous. It stayed high. It was a big storm that lasted a long time. So, we are—I just have to tell you, we‘re worried.
You know, Governor, you talked about Ivan. Last year in Pensacola, almost a year ago, Ivan was headed your way, at the last second, veered east, hit Pensacola. Many people stayed that shouldn‘t have stayed. And there were deaths because of it.
Do you fear that there are going to be a good number of deaths in Biloxi?
BARBOUR: Well, I fear there are going to be some, Joe. And no matter how many of it is, it grieves me.
I mean, we—you ask people, you ask people. And, after a while, it‘s like that you‘re crying wolf. And people say, you know, I have been through this. The truth of the matter is, this is the first big hurricane to hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast since 1969, since Camille came. We have had some grazing shots and we have had some stuff. But this is the first big hurricane since I was a college boy.
BARBOUR: And I just worry that people were complacent.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Governor, Camille, Hurricane Camille, for those that don‘t live on the Gulf Coast, Hurricane Camille from Florida across Alabama‘s Gulf Coast, Mississippi Gulf Coast, Louisiana‘s Gulf Coast, that‘s like a dark legend in these parts. It‘s seen as the worst hurricane of all time.
And it is the worst-case scenario, always has been the worst-case scenario, many people caught—caught basically napping there and killed. How does Katrina compare to Hurricane Camille? Is it as bad? We‘re showing some shots of Camille right now. How does Katrina compare to Hurricane Camille in 1969?
BARBOUR: Well, we know that the barometric pressure for Katrina actually was lower than Camille. We know that Katrina was larger than Camille. Katrina is an enormous storm.
BARBOUR: The winds when Katrina came onshore were not as high as Camille. Camille‘s winds were probably in the 180s, gusts well above 200. It spawned 200 tornadoes. So, in that way, it was clearly worse.
What we don‘t know is what is the amount of damage done by Katrina, compared to Camille, because we haven‘t had a chance to get in there and look at it. The damage is bad enough, you can‘t get in there to look at it.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, Governor Barbour, you know, our thoughts and prayers are with you and all the people across the Gulf Coast. I know it‘s going to be a terrible time in the coming weeks. But know that, again, we‘re thinking about you. And we‘re praying for you. Thanks for being with us tonight.
BARBOUR: OK, Joe. We appreciate your prayers and we will build back, but it‘s a tough day.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, it is such a tough day. And I can tell everybody, from being in Pensacola, Florida, we still have not recovered from Hurricane Ivan that hit last September. It‘s just, when these things come, it devastates your community for years, sometimes decades.
Now, a lot more to come in our Katrina coverage, heroic stories of courage and the darker side of natural disasters like this one. Plus, we‘re going to be going to New Orleans.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARBOUR: It came in on Mississippi like a ton of bricks. It‘s a terrible storm. Whether it will turn out to be worse than Camille, lord, I hope not.
QUESTION: What‘s your worst fear, Governor?
BARBOUR: That there are a lot of dead people down there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Last night, many were predicting that the Big Easy would take the big one right on the chin. Well, you‘re looking at pictures of New Orleans now. And, believe it or not, they were lucky. We will tell you the story when we return.
SCARBOROUGH: Welcome back to this special edition of SCARBOROUGH
As we have been reporting, New Orleans was spared the direct hit that so many feared, so many feared for years. But there‘s no doubt about it. The city and much of Louisiana got walloped.
With me is Louisiana Senator David Vitter.
David, great talking to you tonight.
SCARBOROUGH: I guess I got to—I guess I got to ask you about the good news and the bad news. As you know, David, you don‘t grow up on the Gulf Coast without hearing every single year about the possibility of the big one going into the Big Easy...
SEN. DAVID VITTER ®, LOUISIANA: Sure. Yes.
SCARBOROUGH: ... and killing hundreds of thousands of people. You were pretty close to that last night, weren‘t you?
VITTER: Very close.
And I‘m 44. I grew up in the New Orleans area. I heard about that all my life. This was right on track to be that. And it was an enormously devastating storm, the most devastating, certainly, in New Orleans‘ history, much worse on New Orleans than Hurricane Betsy in 1965.
But, Joe, you‘re right. If it had been 30 miles west, it would have been a whole lot worse, as unbelievable as that is to say, even looking at the video of all the destruction.
SCARBOROUGH: The video is unbelievable. And, you know, we—we—or the first people that reported were reporting from the French Quarter, which anybody that knows about New Orleans knows that‘s one of the highest parts of the city. And they were—on another network, they were shooting the pictures of shutters breaking.
SCARBOROUGH: And yet, across town, you have entire communities submerged.
SCARBOROUGH: How do you clean up from this type of mess, David?
VITTER: It‘s going to take a long, long time. I just got finished looking at a news video from—shot from a helicopter. And it went all around the metropolitan area and the huge majority was under water. For the huge majority of those neighborhoods, all you saw was the structures and in many cases the roofs.
So, it is going to take months and months and months.
SCARBOROUGH: David, we are—and I keep calling you David. I apologize, Senator. We were...
SCARBOROUGH: I should tell our audience we served on the Judiciary Committee in the House of Representatives. But now you‘re a member of the House of Lords. So, I need to start calling you senator.
SCARBOROUGH: You look at these pictures. And the thing is, you know, we got hit by Ivan last year. It was a terrible storm. But people were able to come back fairly soon. The question is, what do you with the people whose homes have been flooded, washed away? And then, what do you do with the refugees that are in other states that escaped last night? You can‘t let them back in until you get basic services up, can you?
VITTER: No, Joe. And you‘re exactly right. That‘s the big problem now.
New Orleans is a bowl, most of which is under sea level. And, right now, that bowl is full of water. And most neighborhoods are full of water, so that, literally, from the air, all you see are the buildings and sometimes only the roofs. So, we‘re not even close to allowing folks like me and my family back into town. We live in Metairie. We‘re not going to be back at our house for some time. Nobody is going to be allowed back for some time, because it‘s no electricity, dirty water everywhere, no clean water. It‘s a horrible situation.
SCARBOROUGH: And, David, it‘s come at the worst time. My wife and I were in New Orleans last week. In fact, this time last week, we were over there. And I turned to her and I said, would you please...
VITTER: Ninety-five degrees?
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. I said, will you please remind me to stop going to New Orleans in August? People that haven‘t been there don‘t understand how unbearably hot it is. And yet, you‘re going to deal with—you know you‘re going to have heart attacks. You‘re going to have strokes. You‘re going to have disease.
SCARBOROUGH: Has FEMA stepped in and told you that they‘re going to undertake extraordinary efforts to try to stop a human catastrophe from taking place?
VITTER: Absolutely. And the good news is, the federal response has been overwhelming. In fact, President Bush signed the first disaster declaration several days ago, when Katrina was still well offshore, only second time in history any president has done that. Hurricane Andrew was the first time. He signed further disaster declarations today.
Mike Brown, head of FEMA, is here on the ground in Louisiana as of yesterday, major FEMA teams, major FEMA assets prepositioned in Louisiana. So, that‘s the good news. But, boy, there is a whole lot of bad news.
SCARBOROUGH: A whole lot of bad news, David. And, again, as we have said, the remarkable thing is, it could have been so much worse.
Senator, thanks for being with us.
VITTER: Thanks, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: We really do appreciate it. And we will be coming back to you obviously in the coming days and weeks, hopefully, if you will come back and talk to us and get us updated. Obviously, all of America is worried about New Orleans tonight.
VITTER: Thanks, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Now let‘s move on.
I want to go—I want to stay in New Orleans and go to Martin Savidge.
Martin, we had little technical problems a minute ago. Obviously, right after a hurricane, that‘s not surprising. Can you hear me all right?
All right, Martin...
MARTIN SAVIDGE, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Joe, from New Orleans, a city that is, as you can plainly see, very much in the dark, but in more ways than one. And it really reflects upon what you were talking about earlier about how people who haven‘t been through a hurricane cannot understand the life-changing event that happens so quickly.
A modern city suddenly is plunged almost into the Stone Age. There is no electricity, very difficult communication, whether you‘re using any sort of cellular telephone. Traveling around the city is real impossible because of all of the debris. You bring this together and then you have the difficulty of what transpired for emergency officials, because the storm left later in the day. It wasn‘t until late afternoon that finally emergency crews could get out and begin to try to make some sort of damage assessment, and then, once they started that process, began responding to emergencies (AUDIO GAP) impossible to respond through the city streets.
It‘s a maze now. There are trees that are down all over the place. There are wires that are down. You cannot see to navigate. And even for emergency vehicles, it is very slow, very difficult going. The National Guard is out on the streets also trying to provide security. There have been instances of looting earlier in the day. They are trying to prevent that from happening again overnight. Keep in mind, though, this is a huge population.
Many of them are people who live here. Other are tourists that were trapped here. There is nothing to do. The hotels have no air conditioning. Most people have been forced out on the street, if only to get a breath of fresh air and to get away from the confines of what they‘ve been living in for the past 24 hours.
There has not been a report of a major death toll here. But, again, it is hard to tell. There are a lot of buildings that have collapsed that will require search-and-rescue teams to go through them. And there is a lot of standing water in high places that will have to drain.
New Orleans did not get it as bad as it feared, but it was plenty bad enough—Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, thanks so much, Martin Savidge. Greatly appreciate it.
I‘ll tell you what. The devastation, I mean, let‘s—if we can, show those aerial shots again. The devastation of New Orleans last night and this morning, just terrible. This is one of the worst storms, one of the worst hurricanes I have seen. And, again, I have grown up and followed scores of thee things over the past 20 or 30 years. And I‘m just afraid we‘re going to see a higher death toll as we move forward.
The man who is going to be responsible—unfortunately, for him, it‘s a difficult job—but the man who is going to be responsible for trying to take this hellacious situation and make the most out of it is Mike Brown. He‘s the director of FEMA. And he joins us now live from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Director Brown, thank you so much for being with us.
Unfortunately, we have spoken too much over the past year about hurricanes.
MICHAEL BROWN, FEMA DIRECTOR: ... Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: But this one, Mike, provides you with so many challenges. You see that standing water. And I‘m thinking about New Orleans in August, 95 degrees, 100 degrees, disease, pestilence. I mean, what do you do to—what do you do to make the best of this horrendous situation?
BROWN: Joe, you know, I think you‘ll appreciate this as a former member of Congress.
A couple of years ago, I went to the president and said, FEMA really needs to be doing catastrophic disaster planning. So, he went to Congress, got us some money to do that. We went around the country and tried to figure out, what‘s the best scenario we can plan for that will really test our limits? Unfortunately, that scenario was a catastrophic 5 hurricane going through New Orleans.
Now, we didn‘t have that exactly, because it veered to the right, you know, to the east just a little bit. But, I‘m telling you, we exercised that plan. We put that plan together and we‘re seeing that in action now. But it is still going to be a tough road. It‘s still going to be very, very tough because of the devastation you‘ve been describing.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Director Brown, you have got refugees in New Orleans that have literally been driven from their homes by floodwaters.
You have got refugees from New Orleans that are in Mississippi, Texas, across the Gulf Coast. How long until those residents that are watching this show tonight from another state are going to be able to come back home and find out whether their houses are still standing and whether their loved ones are still alive?
BROWN: Well, Joe, I am not going to sugarcoat it for anybody, because I think we have to be very, very realistic here. Right now, I have some preliminary reports that indicate that the I-10 bridge between New Orleans and Slidell may have been compromised. We have problems on the west end of I-10.
It may be that—well, and then you have all the water that‘s actually in those neighborhoods. It literally could be weeks, if not months, before people are able to get back into those—into those neighborhoods. So, what I have done is, I have tasked the Army Corps of Engineers. They are here with us as part of our team. And we are going to study and figure out every possible way we can, one, to stop more water from coming in, but also to get that water out of there, so we can at least get in and find out what kind of damage has been done to those homes.
SCARBOROUGH: FEMA Director Mike Brown, I know you have got your work cut out for you. And that‘s why I appreciate you taking time out to be with us tonight. Really appreciate all the hard work you‘re doing and your agency is doing.
I know it personally and I know it from my friends and loved ones here in Pensacola, Florida, how much of a difference you and FEMA can make. Thank you for being with us.
BROWN: Well, thank you very much, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: I just want to ask all of you. I want to stop you for one second. I want to ask you, can you imagine being in a situation that hundreds of thousands of people are in tonight in New Orleans? What if you left your home? What if you evacuated to another state and you‘ve just found out tonight that you may not be able to get home for weeks, if not months? And, in fact, when you get home, you may not even have a home to return to?
It is a terrible, tragic situation. We are going to be following it tonight throughout the rest of this week. Stay with us, because we have got a lot more to come, as our coverage of Hurricane Katrina continues, including the darker side of disasters like Katrina.
Stay with us.
SCARBOROUGH: Anybody that‘s been through a hurricane knows it sounds like a freight train riding over your roof, even if your roof is the Louisiana Superdome. We are going to have that amazing story when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
But, first, here‘s the latest news you and your family need to know.
SCARBOROUGH: Alabama is a state where two were killed. And thousands tonight, tens of thousands, are without power. And this state didn‘t even get the worst of it.
Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
With me now is Alabama Governor Bob Riley.
Bob, a tough day for you all. As I said in the intro, you didn‘t get the worst of it. But we have seen pictures coming out of Mobile. And it looks like that town is flooded and its roads are ripped up. How bad is it in Alabama?
GOV. BOB RILEY ®, ALABAMA: Well, Joe, you‘ve been through it before down in Pensacola, so you know the terrain down around Mobile. It is flooded.
But, to be honest with you, nothing happened that we didn‘t expect. The National Hurricane Center did a great job. Max Mayfield‘s group down there pretty well told us this is what the storm surge is going to be. This is what the winds are going to be. And they pretty well nailed it. I mean, it‘s really amazing how much we need to depend on these people, because they‘re getting very good at it.
You know, and it‘s bad in Alabama. There‘s no doubt. The barrier islands were inundated with water. We have got a tremendous amount of flooding in Mobile. But, when you see the pictures coming out of Mississippi and New Orleans, we were blessed to a large degree.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Bob, as you know, obviously, because you‘ve been to my house and my area, and I certainly spent a lot of time over in Mobile, our areas are a lot alike. Mobile and Pensacola could really be in the same state. Talk about these barrier islands. You know, we spend a lot of money, our states spend a lot of money building up these barrier islands.
But it looks like, with hurricanes coming more frequently, these islands just keep getting torn down. At what point do states start telling people, if you build out there, you‘re building on your own risk?
RILEY: Well, you know, when you look at something Dauphin Island out there, is a couple of feet above sea level, then you know you‘re going to have a problem there eventually.
But what we‘re doing, and I think you‘re doing in Pensacola in Florida, we‘re going—building going back to international building codes. I think that is going to help alleviate some of the problems. Is it going to take away hurricanes? Absolutely not. But, as you know, if you look back over the last 10 or 15 years, we had a pretty good run. It‘s just, in the last couple of years, since I have been governor. This is our third one, Ivan, Dennis, and then Katrina today.
So, I‘m hoping we work out of this cycle and can go another 10 or 20 years before we have another one.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, tell me about the water downtown in Mobile. We were listening on the radio today, because we still don‘t have power in Pensacola. And we kept hearing about downtown Mobile being flooded. How much water is in that area down there?
RILEY: Well, the water is beginning to recede. When you look at the bay, it basically came but and flooded about 16, 18 different blocks in Mobile.
But the water began to recede back out rather quickly. We have got about a quarter of a million people that are out of power. And you know what that is like in this area during the summer. But that‘s the bad news. The good news is, we have got a lot of utility people. They will be in doing damage assessments in the morning. They will all be working.
As soon as we get through there, we‘re going to send just about everybody that we can over to Mississippi. I talked to Haley a couple of times over there. We have got National Guard people going over to help him after they take care of the immediate problems here. We have got search-and-rescue teams. All of these states have a great working relationship.
And I can‘t say enough about Mike Brown and FEMA.
RILEY: I mean, they have had everything prepositioned. We have got water, ice, everything ready to go in tomorrow for our affected areas. And what we have left over, we will start shipping west.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Governor Bob Riley, thanks so much. Let your family and friends and entire state know that our thoughts and prayers are with all of you tonight, and glad that it turned out a little bit better than it did for Biloxi or New Orleans. Thanks, Bob.
RILEY: Well, thank you, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Let‘s go back to Mobile, Alabama, now, which, again, got pounded today with water.
We have NBC‘s Ron Blome. And he saw it all and is live with us with the very latest.
Ron, I will tell you what. I have seen—I just heard the governor of Alabama say that it wasn‘t as bad as he expected, but I heard that the bridges experienced some problems, and also a lot of flooding downtown. Get me up to date on the very latest in Mobile.
RON BLOME, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, they did.
And, you know, for a few minutes this morning, it was a flashback to when Ivan was coming into Pensacola and I was in an old hotel in downtown Pensacola. It was that same terrific roar that just scares the daylights out of you. And we had that for a while.
But when the history is written on Katrina, Mobile was the lucky city.
The guy that can really help answer all the questions here is County Commissioner Stephen Nodine, who joins us.
And you heard Joe‘s question. First, let‘s start with the bridge real quick. We had an oil rig break loose and slide up against the bridge. What‘s the status there?
STEPHEN NODINE, MOBILE COUNTY COMMISSIONER: Well, it didn‘t get to the bridge. But, again, we had three tugboats go. Of course, it broke—the oil rig broke from its moorings and we were successful in making sure that it did not hit the bridge. So, we were very lucky in that regard.
BLOME: So, they just want to inspect it before they reopen it?
NODINE: Well, not only that bridge, but all of our bridges, particularly in the low-lying areas that we are trying to make sure that are passable and certainly safe for the citizens.
NODINE: OK, storm surge. We were told by the National Hurricane Center to expect maybe 15 or 20 feet. From the looks of it this morning, it was maybe 12 or 13. It almost crested over Royal Street and flooded into the city. But then it stopped. We were lucky.
NODINE: We were lucky again. And, as Congressman Scarborough knows, that we have been lucky, and we have been very lucky with not only missing Dennis, but also Ivan. But the storm surge did come up. And we were lucky there. We‘re still inspecting and rescuing people that stayed in our low-lying areas in Dog River and Fowl River. And so, we just are happy that everybody...
BLOME: Still some search and recovery tomorrow and especially Dauphin Island?
NODINE: Yes, indeed. You know, we were just happy everybody heeded the warnings.
BLOME: Yes. OK.
And, Joe, Dauphin Island was very hard hit. We don‘t know the full story there. That‘s one of the places we will be looking at tomorrow morning—back to you.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Ron, it‘s so interesting that, when you are riding through one of these storms—and I know you went through Ivan in the middle of the night. When these things hit in the middle of the night, it‘s just—psychologically, it breaks you down. And you always want it to hit in the day.
But we are seeing all across the Gulf Coast, the fact that it hit in the morning is now causing rescue problems, because you can‘t really start the real search-and-rescue in Biloxi or out on Dauphin Island or Pensacola beach until the next day, can you?
BLOME: Well, that‘s true.
And it was such a big storm. Even at sunset tonight, we were still watching the back end of the storm racing over with blustery winds hitting us. And the crew and I were saying, isn‘t it just amazing that, this many hours after the rain stops, that we‘re still getting knocked about by wind and we still see these clouds? It‘s almost as if the back of the storm is trying to catch up to the mother ship. And, of course, the mother ship is up there in Birmingham and Atlanta and causing a lot of problems.
This storm was not just a Gulf Coast event. There are serious issues to be faced still up the road.
SCARBOROUGH: No doubt, Ron. Thanks for being with us. This was a massive storm, the largest that I have ever seen in my 25, 30 years, actually, I think like 35 years, on the Gulf Coast.
Ron Blome, thank you so much for being with us tonight from Mobile, Alabama. We greatly appreciate it.
We will be right back in a second with much more, are going to be talking about looting, tornadoes, and just about everything else that happened across the Gulf Coast.
SCARBOROUGH: Joining us all now from Weather Plus is Bill Karins.
Bill, this has to be the largest storm, one of the largest storms I have ever seen hit the Gulf Coast.
BILL KARINS, NBC METEOROLOGIST: Yes.
SCARBOROUGH: Where is this monster right now?
KARINS: Well, right now, it‘s crossing over between the Mississippi and the Alabama border. We just got the new advisory in from the National Hurricane Center.
Of course, it‘s over land. It continues to weaken. Take a look at the satellite picture. There‘s clouds now all the way from South Florida up to Chicago. This storm and the clouds from it are now covering a good almost one-third to a half of our entire country. This was a monster storm. And we have yet to see the worst pictures from this storm. I will promise you that tomorrow morning.
Let me mention some towns at the end of this that I think probably got hit the worst. And I will explain why in a second. First, the 11:00 advisory, still a tropical storm, 60 mile-per-hour winds. Should weaken to a weak tropical storm, barely maybe even a tropical storm, right over the top of Nashville, and then heading up quickly, racing, now at about 20 to 25 miles per hour into the Southern Great Lakes by tomorrow evening.
Joe, we were also worried about the tornadoes out there. We don‘t have any tornado warnings currently. But we still have a tornado watch up, though, until about the middle of the night. A lot of these tornado bands have now been drying up. We lost the daytime heating and all that sunshine that we had in areas of Georgia.
Joe was also mentioning how miserable a week it‘s going to be for all of those millions of people without power. Let me show you the expected high temperatures here along the Gulf Coast. We have 100-degree heat in Texas. That‘s going to begin to spread towards Louisiana and also through Mississippi and Alabama, 90-degree heat, high humidity, all that moisture on the ground. It‘s going to be miserable to sleep at night.
Heat index during the afternoon, about 110 degrees Wednesday, all the way through Friday into Saturday, maybe some slight relief by the time we go through this upcoming weekend. But for all those people without power, it‘s probably, at night, low 80s, during the day, temperatures in the upper 90s all week long.
And, Joe, I was mentioning some of those towns. I was looking at a map. Right before landfall, we had 40-foot waves just off the coast of Mississippi, Waveland, Bay St. Louis, Pass Christian, and Long Beach, those are the pictures I‘m waiting to see tomorrow. I think those four towns will probably have the worst devastation.
SCARBOROUGH: Bill, that is just truly remarkable, that information.
And I appreciate you being with us.
And you‘re exactly right. The heat—now, explain very quickly if you can, Bill, about the heat index. You got temperatures in the 90s. But what you do—and I know this, unfortunately, being in the Gulf Coast—you add the heat plus the humidity. And you say heat index, at 110, that‘s what it‘s going to feel like for those people in New Orleans and Biloxi and across the Gulf Coast without air conditioning?
KARINS: Oh, it is going to be miserable. Joe, I was in Orlando last summer for all three hurricanes. I was without power for a whole week. And I never really appreciated the air conditioning enough, because right after the storms go by, you tend to get high pressure building in. You have all the moisture from the heavy rain.
And each and every day, we are going to have the high humidity, but there‘s going to be enough dry air around that we are not going to get the afternoon thunderstorms to cool us off. So, yes, it will be good for people that are cleaning up. We don‘t have to worry about thunderstorms or lightning. But the humidity and the heat is just going to be excessive each and every day. We are almost going to be under heat advisory conditions as we go throughout the upcoming week.
All of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi look like the target areas. It‘s just—it‘s almost another worst-case scenario for the people trying to recover here without power.
SCARBOROUGH: This is a worst-case scenario.
Bill Karins, thank you so much for being with us tonight.
SCARBOROUGH: We really do appreciate it.
You know, friends, there are thousands of people that are working around the clock to bring relief in Katrina‘s wake. Millions are looking to the Red Cross to help in these disasters.
And right now, I want to bring in Peter Teahen. He‘s spokesperson for the American Red Cross.
And, Peter, I‘m sure you just heard that bad news. These poor, poor people in New Orleans and across the Gulf Coast that have been slammed, they‘re going to have to endure 110 -- a heat index of 100, possible disease. What are you all going to be able to do to provide relief, not only in New Orleans, but Biloxi, Mobile and across the entire Gulf Coast?
PETER TEAHEN, AMERICAN RED CROSS: Well, this hurricane could present the opportunity for the largest humanitarian relief effort in the history of the United States, when it comes to hurricanes.
We had over 42,000 people in our shelters, over 248 shelters last night. Many will stay for days and weeks, as they go back and discover their homes are destroyed. They have no place else to stay except in a Red Cross Shelter. We will also be staffing feeding operations. We have—in cooperation with Southern Baptists, we will be able to prepare over a half-a-million meals and deliver them to the people in the affected areas.
SCARBOROUGH: You talk about affected areas, Peter. We‘re looking at new video that‘s coming in, remarkable shots of the New Orleans area. It looks like tsunami video. These homes are completely wiped out, under water in the New Orleans area.
What in the world can you do to help these people? And, on top of that, I guess, you‘re going to have the crush of the refugees outside of New Orleans trying to get back home. How can you help that many people?
TEAHEN: Well, because we rely on the greatest partnership that we have. And that is the generosity of the American public. We‘re looking at an affected area 400 miles wide, plus all the way up the center core of the United States.
It‘s more than just here in the Gulf states, as this storm, as you mentioned, marches its way up to the north. People expect us to be there. We will be there. We are trained and we have volunteers who are stepping forward to make sure they‘re cared for, not only in a mass care effort for feeding, sheltering, mental health professionals who will stay there and help with crisis intervention, health service workers who will be able to provide assistance and medical care, and family service workers who will eventually be able to come and offer financial assistance to meet the financial needs.
This is going to require the greatest partnership of volunteer organizations, the Red Cross, and the American public, who will have to reach deep into their pocket and donate by calling 1-800-HELP-NOW to help us pay this multimillion-dollar response to this horrible disaster.
SCARBOROUGH: Peter Teahen, thank you so much for being with us.
People do need to make that phone call.
Friends, I want to stay on this video. Again, these are the newest images that we have got gotten in shot over the New Orleans area today, this entire area, just flooded, under water, I mean, just the area completely walloped. We can‘t even begin to imagine how these people are going to recover, because, had this happened in Biloxi—and, unfortunately, I fear it did happen in Biloxi, but had it happened in Mobile, had it happened in Pensacola, well, then after a few days, this water would have all subsided, would have all gone back into the system.
Unfortunately, when New Orleans floods, as you‘ve been hearing time and time again over the past 24 hours, it‘s like a bowl. There‘s no place for this water to go unless it‘s pumped out. Some of the pumping systems have failed. You‘re going to have stagnant water sitting in New Orleans for weeks, as the FEMA director says, possibly months. And when that happens, you‘re going to have disease. I mean, my gosh, tomorrow, as we heard from Bill Karins, we heard the heat index tomorrow and throughout the entire week, 110 degrees.
Imagine the mosquitoes. Imagine the heat. Imagine the stagnant water. Imagine—it is a soup for disease. It‘s a recipe for disaster. I‘m afraid the Red Cross and every charitable organization, as well as the federal governments, the state governments, the local governments, are going to be taxed. This will end up being—I predict right now, this will end up being the most expensive natural disaster in American history.
A lot of people got involved and wanted to help, wanted to help people across the globe that were impacted by the tsunami. And I thank God that they did. It was the right thing to do. But it‘s time to help people closer to home. There are a lot of people that are suffering across the Gulf Coast tonight. There are they are going to need your help in the coming months.
I want to go back to Alabama, want to talk to Senator Jeff Sessions. He‘s a man who is from the Mobile area, obviously understands what so many people go through when they experience hurricanes.
But Senator Sessions, you‘ve been looking at some of the pictures from New Orleans, from Mobile. This has to rank up there as one of the most devastating storms in Gulf Coast history, possibly American history. What‘s the government going to be able to do to respond?
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS ®, ALABAMA: It‘s going to be a tremendous challenge, Joe. And I think you have said it well.
This force, this is a tremendous force that hit the Gulf Coast. We were, what, 100 miles east of the eye, 75 or 80 at least. And Mobile has had sustained high winds all day. We had tremendous flooding, as the wind blew straight north all day and drove up, you know, huge amounts of water up the bay. And wind and trees are down. Power‘s out throughout the entire city.
But it‘s—when you look and see what happened to our friends in Mississippi and Louisiana, it—just heartbreaking, really.
SCARBOROUGH: It is heartbreaking. We certainly feel blessed in Pensacola, as I know you do in Mobile, to survive the worst of it.
I want to ask you, Senator. Obviously, you‘ve lived quite a while in the Gulf Coast like me. This storm system, the largest storm system I have ever seen, tonight, there is—this storm covers from Mobile and Pensacola, Florida, all the way up to Chicago, Illinois. Is this the largest storm system you‘ve ever seen?
SESSIONS: I think it certainly is.
I remember the power of Frederick, Hurricane Frederick, that hit us more directly. But, as far as the scope of it, I mean, we were so far from the eye and how much—and you know it started at 5:00 this morning and we still have 15-, 20-mile-per-hour gusts out there right now? You know, usually, they stop. So, this is larger than anything I have seen, for sure, to have that wide a path.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, no doubt about it. Senator Sessions, thank you so much.
And may God be with you as you try to bring relief to these people that have suffered so much. We appreciate it.
We will be right back with more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, amazing new video streaming in. Stay with us. You‘ll see more of it when we return.
SCARBOROUGH: Are you looking at images of America‘s tsunami? Much more of these images, shocking images, when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: Hurricane Katrina will certainly be remembered for many things, including the flooding of New Orleans, Jefferson Parish, Plaquemines, Orleans Parish, St. Bernard Parish, other parishes across New Orleans, the New Orleans area walloped.
Tomorrow night, we are going to be bringing you pictures from Biloxi. I fear they may be even worse than these images. Hard to believe, a long way to cleaning up.
Let‘s move on now, and we are going to take you straight through to
“THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON.”
That starts right now—Tucker.
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